BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A few key strokes in a web search, and a world of information appears on your computer screen. When the topic is autism, however, the results are overwhelming and not always helpful.
Local pastor and advocate Raymond Jetson knows that struggle well. When his daughter was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder nearly 30 years ago, all he got was a single piece of paper as guidance.
"My family literally spent months trying to find information so we can do all that we could to make a difference in the life of my daughter," said Jetson.
Now families facing that same unknown have a new tool just a click away.
The Baton Rouge Area Foundation (BRAF) launched a new website Wednesday, Exceptional Lives Louisiana, which has been two years in the making.
The free statewide service is underwritten by BRAF and its donors, as well as some other community foundations in Louisiana. The platform is provided by Exceptional Lives, a group based out of Boston.
"Two years ago, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation engaged parents, therapist, state and local agencies and other to see how Autism services could be improved in the Baton Rouge region," states a press release.
With a few clicks, families can find the resources they need to help their child with Autism or other developmental challenges. The website includes step-by-step guides that can be tailored for each family with just a few questions and help them do things like understand a diagnosis, apply for benefits, or even find a service provider like a therapist or social worker.
"We hope, the long-term impact, that more children get connected to the services they need, because services can make a huge difference in the ultimate trajectory of a child," said Exceptional Lives co-founder Anne Marcus.
Jetson said the service is game changing.
"There are so many communities outside the Baton Rouge area where people don't have ready access. There's not a government office, or a non-profit around the corner that they can walk to and find help and find information," said Jetson.
For more information on the site, go to la.exceptionallives.org.